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The Political Economy of European Merger Control: Evidence using Stock Market Data

  • Tomaso Duso
  • Damien J. Neven
  • Lars-Hendrik Röller

The objective of this paper is to investigate the determinants of EU merger control decisions. We consider a sample of 164 EU merger control decisions and evaluate the anti-competitive consequences of these mergers from the reaction of the stock market price of competitors to the merging firms. We then account for the discrepancies between the actual decisions and what the stock market would have dictated in terms of the political economy surrounding the cases. Our results suggest that the commission’s decisions cannot be solely accounted for by the motive of protecting consumer surplus. The institutional and political environment does matter. As far as firms’ influence is concerned, however, our data suggests that the commission’s decisions are not sensitive to firms’ interests. Instead, the evidence suggests that other factors - such as country and industry effects, as well as market definition and procedural aspects - do play significant roles. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Die politische Ökonomie der europäischen Fusionskontrolle: Evidenz anhand von Aktienmarkt-Daten) In diesem Beitrag werden die Bestimmungsfaktoren für Entscheidungen der EUFusionskontrolle untersucht. Für eine Auswahl von 164 Entscheidungen der EUFusionskontrolle werden die wettbewerbsbeschränkenden Folgen dieser Fusionen berechnet. Dies geschieht anhand der Reaktion des Börsenkurses der Konkurrenten auf die Fusion. Erklärt werden anschließend die Abweichungen zwischen den gegenwärtigen Entscheidungen und dem, was die Aktienmärkte im Hinblick auf die politische Ökonomie, in welche die Fälle eingebettet sind, vorgeschrieben hätten. In Bezug auf Fehler vom Typ I (dem Anschein nach Wettbewerb bejahende Fusionen, die verboten wurden) decken die Ergebnisse einige systematische Fehler auf, untermauern jedoch nicht die häufige Behauptung, dass die Kommission auf Kosten der Konsumenteninteressen von den Interessen der Wettbewerber beeinflusst wird. Es werden auch systematische Fehler in Richtung von Fehlern des Typ II (scheinbar wettbewerbseinschränkende Fusionen, die genehmigt wurden) festgestellt, welche von einer Anzahl institutioneller und politischer Eigenschaften der EUEntscheidungsfindung beeinflusst zu sein scheinen. Die Ergebnisse unterstützen die Auffassung, dass wettbewerbseinschränkende Fusionen mit größerer Wahrscheinlichkeit in Phase I genehmigt werden, wenn sie Unternehmen aus großen Mitgliedstaaten betreffen, jedoch mit geringerer Wahrscheinlichkeit, wenn der relevante Markt national ist. Zudem wird festgestellt, dass die Häufigkeit der genannten Fehler während der Amtszeit von Kommissar Monti gestiegen ist.

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Paper provided by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG) in its series CIG Working Papers with number FS IV 02-34.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in the Journal of Law and Economics .
Handle: RePEc:wzb:wzebiv:fsiv02-34
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  1. G. William Schwert, 1994. "Mark-Up Pricing in Mergers and Acquisitions," NBER Working Papers 4863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Salinger, M.A. & Schumann, L., 1988. "Horizontal Mergers And The Market Value Of Rivals: The In Play Effect," Papers fb-_88-03, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  3. Neven, Damien J. & Roller, Lars-Hendrik, 2005. "Consumer surplus vs. welfare standard in a political economy model of merger control," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(9-10), pages 829-848, December.
  4. Kaplan, Steven N & Weisbach, Michael S, 1992. " The Success of Acquisitions: Evidence from Divestitures," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(1), pages 107-38, March.
  5. Lars-Hendrik Röller & Johan Stennek & Frank Verboven, 2000. "Efficiency Gains from Mergers," CIG Working Papers FS IV 00-09, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
  6. Khemani, R S & Shapiro, Daniel M, 1993. "An Empirical Analysis of Canadian Merger Policy," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 161-77, June.
  7. Stillman, Robert, 1983. "Examining antitrust policy towards horizontal mergers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-4), pages 225-240, April.
  8. Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Stennek, Johan, 2000. "Why Event Studies Do Not Detect Anti-Competitive Mergers," Working Paper Series 542, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  9. Neven, Damien J., 2001. "How should "protection" be evaluated in Article III GATT disputes?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 421-444, June.
  10. Malcolm B. Coate, 2002. "A Test of Political Control of the Bureaucracy: The Case of Mergers," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 1-18.
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